Bolts Bolster Blue Line With Three Deadline Day Deals

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman revamped the Bolts blue line corps with a trio of trades on this deadline Monday.

The Lightning acquired defenseman Mike Commodore from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a conditional seventh round draft pick in 2013. 

Commodore is a Bolt

The 32 year old Commodore played only 17 games with the Red Wings accumulating two assists. He was a +3 while averaging 11:29 of ice time. After missing the first eight games of the season he has been a healthy scratch the rest of the way.

Commodore has played 471 career NHL games with the New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings during an 11-year career.  He has scored 23 goals and accumulated 106 points. He won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Hurricanes.

Getting Commodore was an inexpensive move to help the Bolts get through the rest of this season. The 6’5″, 235 lbs Commodore is a pending unrestricted free agent with a $1 million contract, making the Lightning responsible for about $220,000.

The Lightning acquired defenseman Keith Aulie from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Carter Ashton.

Ashton dealt to Toronto

The 6’4″, 215 lbs. Aulie was originally selected 29th overall and is in his first season in the minors where he has scored 19 goals and 35 points in 56 games. The 22 year old was picked up in Toronto’s trade with Calgary that also netted Dion Phaneuf.

Aulie has a huge upside despite earning just two assists and a -2 rating in 17 NHL games. He is highly regarded for his stay at home defensive play. He had 41 hits and 28 blocked shots with the Leafs this season. The 2007 fourth round pick of the Calgary Flames has played in 23 AHL games with the Toronto Marlies, netting one assist and a -8 rating. In 57 NHL games over the last two seasons, Aulie has two goals, two assists and a -3 rating.

In 56 games with Norfolk (AHL) the 20 year old Carter Ashton was third on the team with 19 goals and fifth with 35 points.  The 6’3″, 215 lbs. winger represented Canada at 2011 world junior championships, where he scored one goal and two assists for the silver-medal winning team.

Aulie is a big man that can skate. He can develop into a solid stay at home blue liner, but will probably never develop into an offensive threat.

The Lightning acquired defenseman Brian Lee from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for defenseman Matt Gilroy.

Gilroy goes to Ottawa

The 27 year old Gilroy was playing his first season with the Lighting after skating the past two seasons with the New York Rangers. The 2009 Hobey Baker winner posted 17 points in 53 games while averaging 17:36 of ice time per game. Gilroy is in the final year of a contract that pays him $1million and will be an unrestricted free agant on July 1.

Lee was the Senators first round pick in 2005 and the ninth overall pick. He appeared in 35 games this season, overcoming a lower-body injury suffered in January. Lee had a goal and seven assists this year, averaging just over 13 minutes per game. The 24 year old Lee is an impending restricted free agent earning $875,000 a season.

Both Gilroy and Lee are underachievers, but Lee is younger and is an RFA not a UFA next season.

Mike Commodore and Brian Lee are expected to play for Tampa Bay tomorrow night versus Montreal.

*Carter Ashton and Matt Gilroy photographs courtesy of Linda Hamilton.

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About the Author: WB Philp is a published hockey writer who has a built in disdain for Barry Melrose. He covered the Detroit sports teams for many years until he came to his senses and moved to the Sunshine State. He is a true puckhead on a mission from God (Gordie Howe) to make hockey relevant in the south. He lives in Hockey Bay USA and covers the Lightning full time. Did I mention he hates Barry Melrose?

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